The International Politics of Development

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Course Description: 

This course gives an overview of recent approaches to the international and global politics of development. What do organizations and actors such as donor countries’ aid agencies, INGOs or the World Bank do? Do they really want development, fighting poverty or reducing inequality, or do they serve other purposes? How weak are developing countries really? And when or why do countries implement policy reforms that supposedly ‘develop’ their societies and economies. The course will begin by looking at major concepts and theories of development. It will also discuss the historical evolution of the concepts and practices of development. It will then talk about the relationship between globalization and development (flows of capital, people, goods and services). Next comes a discussion of ‘hard power’ in development politics: the role of international financial organizations, bilateral aid etc. Finally it will move over to ‘soft power’ politics: international policy diffusion, emulation and forms of policy learning when it comes to fighting poverty and inequality, or ‘developing’ entire economies.

Learning Outcomes: 

General Learning Outcomes: Students should get a comprehensive overview over the main theoretical and empirical debates in the field. They will learn not only to apply these theories, but also to engage with them critically. They will learn to identify the main developmental strategies of poor countries for growth and poverty reduction. They should also be able to discuss the key strengths and weaknesses of these strategies.

Specific Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the politics underlying international development, inequality and strategies of poverty reduction

  • Discuss and critically compare the three major theoretical approaches:
    How does development happen (economic theories)?
    Who wants it, who doesn’t (politicaleconomy approaches)?
    Are we asking the right questions (critical approaches)?

  • Get an overview and the capacity to critically assess major strategies: Official development assistance & debt relief,
    Macroeconomic policies, (de)regulation & liberalization
    The role of political institutions and political processes
    Social and antipoverty policies

  • Be able to read and evaluate the scholarly literature
      Understand and criticize articles of all main metatheoretical predispositions
      Build a survey of literature for the thesis project that does not select on basis of
    methodological or meta
    theoretical criteria, but entirely on basis of suitability for the topic.


Class participation, small assignments and ’running’ sessions (40 %)

Term paper, draft version (40%), Deadline Week 10

Term paper, final version (20 %), Deadline after Week 12